(TMU) — One of the hottest astronomical mysteries of the century is a phenomenon known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), which refers to the incomprehensibly powerful extragalactic energy emissions observed as milliseconds-long pulses of light.
Because of their transient nature—as well as the vast distances involved—scientists have struggled to study FRBs and determine their true origin and meaning. A new landmark discovery may localize an FRB with such exactitude that scientists can finally determine whether the phenomenon is natural or a product of sentient communication.
Scientists have been actively cataloguing FRBs—which, incredibly, are believed to release approximately the same amount of energy in 1 millisecond as our sun does over the course of a century—since 2007. Since this time, they have identified 85 of the mysterious bursts, which are usually seen as “one-off” events but occasionally take the form of “repeaters” that duplicate the same signal in the same location.
The new one-off discovery of FRB 121102—the light from which has traveled for nearly four billion years to reach us—constitutes only the second time a fast radio burst has been tracked to its home galaxy. The team has pinpointed not only the home galaxy, but the specific region within that galaxy, which happens to be near the center—and likely close to—a supermassive black hole. Bannister’s team has ruled out the black hole as the source of the emission.
Lead author of the team that made the discovery, Keith Bannister, from Australia’s national science agency, stated:
“If we were to stand on the Moon and look down at the Earth with this precision, we would be able to tell not only which city the burst came from, but which postcode and even which city block. This is the big breakthrough the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts in 2007.”
Bannister and his Australian-led international team used the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope, which constitutes a network of 36 individual radio telescopes linked together. But in order for the scientists to glean such precise information about the FRB’s specific location, the team used a new technique that triangulated their findings with the slightly different arrival time data collected from two other telescopes—the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile measured its distance with the Keck telescope in Hawaii and the Gemini South telescope in Chile.
The team’s article on the discovery also paves the way for further research. In addition to potentially revolutionizing the way scientists study FRBs, the characteristics of this particular FRB in this particular galaxy will afford scientists a new way to study the non-luminous gas of vast intergalactic mediums, a poorly understood concept.
“The next step,” says co-author Ryan Shannon, “is to see if other one-off bursts are like FRB 180924 (originating in massive galaxies) or if they are more like the first repeater. I think they will be like 180924, and we will be able to open up a new window on the nearly invisible cosmic web.”
FRB research has accelerated in recent years. In 2017, astronomers embarked on the Breakthrough Listen Project, a $100 million endeavor that marshalled state of the art artificial intelligence (AI) to search for signs of life in the universe. The effort produced the discovery of 21 FRBs in the dwarf galaxy FRB 121102 in only an hour.
Most scientists take a moderately conservative approach to their speculation on the origin of FRBs, pointing at magnetars or magnetic oscillations of neutron stars as possible explanations. Other hypotheses include pulsar collapses and black hole collisions.
Other scientists say that FRBs could be the ideal way for advanced species to communicate or broadcast their existence over vast distances. Astrophysicists Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam have proposed the idea that FRBs may originate from alien solar sails, as such a propulsive source (widely viewed as a realistic form of interstellar travel) would require immense amounts of energy.
FBI Seizes Capitol Building LEGO Set From Alleged Rioter’s House
Many of us know, either from our childhood or even our adulthood, that building and collecting LEGO can be a fun hobby that allows us to tap into our creativity in a relaxing, stress-free way.
But what if someone’s LEGO hobby is something much more nefarious – or even seditious in the eyes of the government?
Such may have been the case when special agents with the FBI confiscated a fully completed LEGO set of the U.S. Capitol Building from the home of Robert Morss, 27, whom they allege participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to court documents published by The Smoking Gun.
The large LEGO set is comprised of 1,032 pieces and was released in 2016 and is no longer available for retail. The agents seized the finished set along with other items matching those they believe Morss had in his possession when he allegedly stormed the building – including a neck gaiter, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, a military-style satchel, a black tourniquet, and military battle dress uniforms.
The documents also note that he “had three different firearms including a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle” in his possession.
According to LEGO, the United States Capitol Building set “focuses on the structure’s neoclassical style facade, steps and lawns” and is “finished with a decorative ‘US Capitol’ nameplate.” In 2019, the product was “retired” – which has less to do with politics and more to do with the limited availability of the company’s unique product lines.
Morss, who is from Pennsylvania, was arrested last month on a range of federal charges. According to the Department of Justice, his alleged crimes “include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States.”
An FBI investigator’s affidavit notes that Morss joined rioters in direct confrontations with officers guarding the Lower West Terrace doors of the Capital in “an intense and prolonged clash between rioters and law enforcement.”
Law enforcement officers claim that they also found a notebook in Morss car that had instructions on a “Step by Step to Create Hometown Militia” that included a list of names, equipment, and sections on “ambush,” “battle drills,” and “formations.” The notebook also contained notes that said “bring assault rifle,” “4 magazines,” and “bring kit/body armor.”
However, the court documents do not indicate whether the LEGO set was deployed in tactical drills prior to the botched uprising.
The DOJ says that roughly 465 individuals have been arrested on charges related the events of Jan. 6.
Neptune, the Roman God of Water, ‘Emerges’ From Waves in Photo During UK Storm
If we were to believe our eyes, it would seem that the ancient Roman god of water himself made an appearance on the shores of New Haven, England, on a day of especially rough surf.
What appears to be the “face” of Neptune was captured on Tuesday when photographer Jeff Overs of the BBC was taking photos of waves crashing over the harbor wall in the port city.
Of course, one is free to believe that the ferocious deity emanated from the depths of the sea to remind us puny humans of his wrath.
But alas, it was likely a simple example of pareidolia – the phenomenon of seeing faces and figures in otherwise random or ambiguous everyday objects.
The photographer snapped the shot amid high tide and winds exceeding 50 miles per hour (80km/h), namely because of the violent nature of the shore.
“It’s become a popular location for photographers because the sea ‘boils’ in high wind against the sea wall,” Overs explained.
“The waves splash into the high wind and when blown back occasionally make patterns that look like ghoulish faces.”
Overs added that one of the small foreground waves even resembles a hand – albeit a pareidolic one.
“It’s a straight shot and I haven’t manipulated the image at all,” he added.
Lunar New Deal: GOP Lawmaker Suggests Altering Moon & Earth’s Orbit to Stop Climate Change
Texas Republican Congressman Louise Gohmert raised the eyebrows of his Congressional colleagues on Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that climate change could be combatted by changing the orbit of the moon, or even altering “Earth’s orbit around the sun.”
Gohmert, who has been decried as the “dumbest member of Congress” for his past absurdly anti-scientific comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and a number of other issues, has been a vocal opponent of progressive legislators’ attempts to put a “Green New Deal” on the government’s agenda.
However, his apparent suggestion of a “Lunar New Deal” to mitigate global warming could take the cake as his most hare-brained idea yet.
The comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on four pending bills while questioning Jennifer Eberlien of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, reports NBC.
“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the B.L.M. [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” the Texas congressman began.
“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun,” he continued.
“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Gohmert said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or B.L.M. can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”
“Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate,” the lawmaker added.
Responding, Eberlein said with a smile: “I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.”
“If you figure out there’s a way in the forest service you could make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert responded, without any trace of irony.
Longtime critics of the conservative legislator were besides themselves with bewilderment and mockery over the out-of-this-world suggestion.
On the opposite side of the aisle California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu suggested that perhaps Marvel Comics superheroine Captain Marvel was up to the task.
“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.
According to NASA, the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history for various reasons, including small variations in the planet’s orbit.
However, the agency’s website notes that this doesn’t discount the fact that anthropogenic or human-caused activities are the culprit of the current warming.
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia,” the site says.